Butter Rum Cartoon

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014


I always wondered how, in this Information Age, society has become dumber than ever. But today, reading through the 20-volume set of the 1941 Book of Knowledge, in Vol. 11, on Page 3803, I stumbled upon the answer:

"...[W]hat we feel is not in simple proportion to the intensity or strength of what excites us. We might suppose that what would happen is this: add so much to the brightness of the light, and we should feel accordingly; do it again and again, and the result will always correspond. But that is not the case, as we all know when we think of it. Add one candle to one candle, and we know the difference; add one to ten, and we scarcely know the difference; add one to fifty, and no one would notice the difference. Add one voice to four voices, and we all know the difference; add one to forty, and no one could tell.

"If this were the right place for it, it might be shown that this law is true of all our lives. It means that the higher the pitch of our talking or of our writing, of our newspapers, the more difficult is it to increase the impression made by them. The man who is always shouting must shout very much louder if he is to excite our attention; but the person who speaks in a gentle voice has only to raise it the least bit and we at once give him our attention.

"This law is true of all sensations and feelings, and of all our responses. It is probably true of every kind of living matter, and its discovery was one of the great feats of the nineteenth century."

And this is why, when we read some earth-shattering breaking story on the Internet that should affect us all, we just pooh-pooh it, possibly read it but then forget it, because it's only one of the millions of news items we're inundated with constantly. It's but one candle added to countless candles; as Hillary says, "What difference does it make?" That's why zombie movies are so popular; we can relate to them. If only one of Obama's many scandals was breathed a hundred years ago, people would have been up in arms and Obama would be out on his ear (if lucky). I certainly don't know how to fix it (without getting rid of computers), but at least I now understand why it's the way it is. The scary thing is that the government takes advantage of this law described above to get away with anything.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this great insight. It seems to have stood the test of time.

    It reminds me of the question I ask, or want to ask, of those who habitually use the F-word in every other sentence: "When you really, REALLY want to shock your listener, what word do you use?"